Back in the day, as in pre-LinkedIn, no one knew what you looked like when you applied for jobs. Now, that’s changed.
As I briefly mentioned in my last post, your headshot is a key component of your online professional identity.
Several people had questions about headshots, so here are a five tips for getting it right:
- Keep it professional. You don’t have to pay a professional to take your photo, but it needs to look professional. You should basically look like you’re walking into a job interview. Boring? Maybe, but you’re applying for law jobs. It won’t kill you to put on a suit and a bit of makeup for the occasion (even guys can use some translucent powder for shine — ask your female friends if you have no idea what this is).
- Pay attention to the lighting. Why do artist studios face north? Because that’s where the most consistent light is. For your headshot, you want soft, natural light if at all possible. (Artificial lights can look harsh and cast weird shadows unless you’re careful.) If you don’t have high-quality lighting equipment to work with, find a north-facing window and take your headshot there. (NOT in front of the window, since this creates too much contrast. Stand so the light falls on your face, through the window.)
- Avoid busy backgrounds. This is a headshot. The point is to focus on you! That means you want to position yourself in front of a solid background (light or dark), not in front of a stack of books in your office, a bunch of sailboats, or some other busy and distracting setting. Keep it simple.
- Take rapid-fire shots. A tip I learned when I had a headshot professionally done — set the camera up so it fires multiple times per second. This way, you can start out with your face relaxed and then smile. If your photographer friend takes rapid-fire photos as you do this, you’ll capture the smile as it forms, which often results in a more natural looking expression than the silly grin you’d have if someone says, “Cheese!” and snaps a shot.
- Try to relax. Having your photo taken repeatedly is weird for most people. But you’re more likely to get a good shot if you can relax your face and suffer through a bunch of attempts. Take a deep breath, notice if you’re holding tension in your eyes or your jaw, and just let it go. Have your friend start shooting as you break into a smile. Repeat 10 or 20 times, and you’ll end up with a lot of shots to choose from!
We’re not really going for model perfect here — you just need a decent, well-lit photo that projects a professional image.
Follow the five suggestions above, and you’ll be well on your way!
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Job Hunting 101
Here’s all of Job Hunting 101:
- Job Hunting 101: It’s Not All About You
- Job Hunting 101: Project a Consistent Image
- Job Hunting 101: Don’t Neglect Your Headshot
- Job Hunting 101: What Makes You Unique?
- Job Hunting 101: Google Yourself
- Job Hunting 101: Did You Know Your Law School May Pay for Conferences?
- Job Hunting 101: Get Out and Meet People
- Job Hunting 101: Be Careful Who Your Facebook Friends Are
- Job Hunting 101: Follow Up
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